Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new tell-all book What Happened, about his time working in the Bush Administration, has created quite the shit storm over the past few days. The news media have been lapping up revelations such as this one on Bush’s real motivation for starting a war with Iraq:
In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw “his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness,” something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.
The president’s real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because “Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East,” McClellan wrote.
“Rather than open this Pandora’s Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth,” he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used “innuendo and implication” and “intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary.”
“President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option,” McClellan concluded, noting, “The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president’s entire second term in office.”
Dana Perino, who graces McClellan’s old podium, issued a statement calling him “disgruntled” and wondering what happened to “the Scott we knew.”
Privately, the whispers from other outraged Bush partisans are even more dismissive: he was never up to the job so we had to get rid of him; he wasn’t in the room when key decisions were made; he became press secretary only because the President he’s betrayed was more loyal than his ungrateful Judas.
But McClellan’s inside-the-bunker revelations are even more withering precisely because of his pedigree. Of all the Bush true believers, Scotty was the least likely to write a kiss-and-tell memoir.
The thing is that none of this should be news to anyone who’s been paying attention over the past 6 years. McClellan is just confirming a lot of what has already been known or suspected for years. When the WMoDS were no where to be found the Administration trotted out a lot of different bullshit excuses and justifications for the war including the idea that Iraq would be a shining beacon of Democracy in the Middle East that would lead to its spread throughout the region. The idea that Bush bought into his own deceptions should be no surprise to anyone who has watched him answer questions from the press. It’s clear he believes what he’s saying in spite of reality and his method of constantly repeating the same falsehoods over and over again is as much to convince himself as any of us. We knew, or should have known, all of this before the 2004 election and yet the majority of people in this country opted to elect him again. The situation we find ourselves in today is a direct result of our own collective stupidity.
As much as I would personally love to see Bush and his crew impeached and brought up on war crime charges, the damage has already been done and there’d be little to gain from it other than perhaps heading off a possible attack on Iran by this administration. Considering how long impeachment proceedings take chances are he’d be out of office before they were resolved anyway. It’s also doubtful that, in an election year, the Republicans would allow such proceedings to take place simply because of the negative publicity it would bring to the party. We’ll just have to ride out the last few months and hope that Bush doesn’t do anything else particularly stupid in the time remaining.
But none of this should be a surprise to anyone. At least not to anyone who’s been paying attention.